Boy, I don't know which is more entertaining - NBC's latest f*ck-up of their late night franchises, or the "Pete Carroll leaves, Lane Kiffin goes to USC" saga. A few random comments about both:
- First, let's talk about "The Jay Leno Show." No, I take it back - first, let me stipulate that I've always liked Jay Leno, and thought he was a great stand-up comedian back in the 1980s. There are plenty of clips of his appearances on David Letterman's show on YouTube, and they're well worth checking out if you want to see Jay at his best. But let's face it - Jay's 10 p.m. show sucks. I've watched it more than I should probably admit, mainly because there isn't much else on at 10 p.m. these days, and I just seem to do better if I have some white noise on in the background. Jay's monologue varies between OK and very good, the "Headlines" are still funny, and pretty much everything else has been an unmitigated disaster. But what's truly amazing to me is that from day one, Jay has done absolutely nothing to vary the formula of the show - despite the clear evidence on Night 1 that the "10 on 10" segment was a bad idea, they are still doing it, nearly six months later. The banter with Kevin Eubanks is awful; frankly, the band isn't even that good. The interviews are forced, as they always have been. Every now and then, one of the recorded segments is funny, although all these years later, I'm still mystified as to why anyone thinks or ever thought Ross the Intern is/was funny. Have I left anything out?
- I haven't watched enough of "The Tonight Show" with Conan to gauge its effectiveness. I've always been a Letterman man, and since Letterman comes on at 11 in Sacramento, that's what I watch. By the time its over or I've decided that Letterman's guests aren't worth watching, I'm usually too tired to make any kind of reasonable judgment about what's going on with Conan's show.
- Having said all of the above, there's no doubt in my mind that Conan is the wronged party here. Particularly given the fact that his version of "Late Night" took a couple of years to find its footing, it's amazing that NBC would throw him to the wolves so quickly. And given the absymal quality of Jay's show at 10 p.m, you really have to wonder whether the fan base for Jay's Tonight Show will stick with him. I imagine so, because they did before, and from what I saw of that show, it wasn't much different than what's now playing in prime time. Conan's statement to the "People of Earth" yesterday was an absolute masterpiece, managing to be pointed and hilariously funny all at the same time. After reading it, it's difficult for me to imagine how anyone is going to sympathize with Jay in all of this. But at the same time, Jay was wronged as well - NBC tried to push him out the door too. So I guess the only real villain in all of this is NBC. Now let's see if they can make it up to us by producing the next "Hill Street Blues," "Homicide" or "ER." Heck, I'd even settle for "Miami Vice" at this point.
- Speaking of villains, how about that Lane Kiffin? And yeah, I know that people in other professions probably do this sort of thing (although I can't think of one in my experience, and I've been in the workforce for almost 30 years). But even if we assume that is true, how about leaving all of those recruits in the lurch? Since most of the sports media world is slicing and dicing Kiffin with aplomb, I'm not sure there's much I can add, except to thank him for giving all of us another reason to root against USC.
- Have I commented on Pete Carroll? I can't even remember. But in the spirit of brevity, let me just say that I think he's made a big mistake, and that his coaching stint in Seattle will end much the same way as his previous two. I like him; I just can't understand his decision.